On Wednesday, we began to discuss the terribly misguided blame being placed on individuals who suffered horrific burn injuries as a result of using gas cans manufactured by Blitz USA. The Miami, Oklahoma factory is closing this Tuesday, July 31, because of what it says is the cost of ongoing litigation. As we mentioned on Wednesday, many of Blitz’s problems may have been avoided had the company included a five-cent wire-mesh screen called a “flame arrestor” in the cans—a concern that Dan Rather noted was first voiced by Consumer Reports nearly 40 years ago.
Rather first reported about the harm caused by Blitz cans in 2008, and while the company has continued to blame “consumer misuse” of its products for causing these accidents, one follow-up report by Rather demonstrated how false that assertion is.
Again, this explosion occurred without a fire ever being lit. “Someone heard it from almost half a mile, three quarters of a mile away, so it was a big boom,” Robert Jacoby would go on to tell Rather about the explosion. “As far as, like, how it’s changed my life, it has utterly destroyed it.”
Jacoby suffered second and third degree burns to more than 75 percent of his body, and he told Rather that he is at a point where he cannot do anything right now. “And I still have to have surgeries in the future,” Jacoby told Rather. “Can’t do anything until the scar tissue matures so it’s just a waiting game of me doing nothing until the scar tissue heals.”
KOKI-TV reported on July 25, 2012, that there were 42 lawsuits filed against Blitz when the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 9, 2011. Rather tweeted that the cost of a Blitz gas can “more than doubled” after the filing, and while the company will lay off 117 employees, executives will still be eligible for bonuses. As for Robert Jacoby, because of the bankruptcy filing, he and the many other victims will be unable to collect any compensation for their injuries.
Business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC) argue that tort reform would eliminate so-called “frivolous lawsuits,” and the lobbying group has sought to deceive the public with dishonest documentaries such as “InJustice” which portray negligent companies as victims and plaintiffs as greedy. There is information about burn injuries available on our website, and you can contact our firm at (513) 232-2000 to set up a free consultation if you have sustained a serious injury because of a defective or dangerous product. Stories like Robert Jacoby’s are heartbreaking because of the physical pain involved, but they should also make people angry. When victims are seriously injured like him and are denied the opportunity to receive the compensation they need for astronomical medical costs, it is the taxpayers like us who have to pick up the tab. If that is not the very definition of the term “injustice,” then we do not know what is.